In 1643, the independent colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven came together and established the Confederation of New England Colonies. The Confederation was established in response to the threat posed by hostile natives, as well as colonies’ French and Dutch rivals. Its goal was to create friendship and interdependence between the colonies, as well as defend each other in times of hostilities. The Confederation of New England Colonies lasted until 1684. This event is recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during that time.
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New England Colonies: The Early Years
During the early 17th century, large groups of Puritans fled England and sought refuge in the New World. In spite of the challenges they faced, they were able to establish settlements along the coast of the Massachusetts Bay. Some of the towns created during the early years of colonization were Plymouth, Salem, Charlestown, and Boston.
Unfortunately, religious uniformity was impossible to attain, and dissenters soon emerged among the Puritans. Despite the persecution they experienced in the past, the Puritans themselves were not tolerant of dissent. The dissenters’ conflict with the Puritan leaders soon forced them to look for other places where they could settle. Some of them eventually founded new colonies in Wethersfield (1633) and New Haven (1638) in Connecticut.
The colonies of New England, however, were wedged between two other rivals: the French in the Canada and the Dutch traders in New Amsterdam. Apart from their Old World rivals, the different Native American tribes that lived near the colonies became a threat to the settlers. The tribes and the colonists were often times allies, but wars sometimes broke out between them.
The trade-driven conflict between the Native Americans and the English settlers finally exploded in 1637 with the Pequot War. What started out as a rivalry on the fur and wampum trade ignited into retaliatory killings between the natives and the settlers. The conflict only ended when the settlers (along with their Mohegan and Narragansett allies) massacred the Pequot in their village in Mystic, Connecticut.
The Puritans knew that their enemies would continue as threats unless they put up a united front and create defenses for themselves. In May 1643, the representatives of the Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven finally came together and created the United Colonies of New England (also known as Confederation of New England Colonies or New England Confederation).
It was one of the earliest forms of government in the colonies and was created so they could support and defend each other. Each colony was allowed to appoint two commissioners who would then represent them in annual meetings (or whenever necessary). A commissioner who wanted to lead the Confederation would need six votes for him to become president. The colonies were also encouraged to help each other and build their own defenses against the natives and foreign rivals. This alliance lasted only until 1684.
Picture by: Artist: A.R. Waud Engraver: Anthony (authorship from here) – New York Public Library Digital Collection: http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?808137, Public Domain, Link
Rich, E.E. The New Cambridge Modern History: The Decline of Spain and the Thirty Years War 1609-48/59. Edited by J.P. Cooper. Vol. 4. London: Cambridge University Press, 1971.
United Colonies of New England. The Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England. New York: P.P. Simmons Co., 1917.
“The Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England; May 19, 1643.” Avalon Project. Accessed August 01, 2017. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/art1613.asp.
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